Cambodia: Street Woman With Her Cat

By Rudolph.A.Furtado (posted 23rd Dec. 2013)

Cambodian street woman and her cat
Photo copyright Rudolph A Furtado
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

“During my tour of Phnom Penh, I came across this lady on the street with a kitten tied to her body and a package of clothes. Was she a homeless lady with a pet? It was amazing to see this lady with her pet cat and a load of luggage. I observed her roaming around the street near my hotel. Could also be a source of tourist attraction.” (Rudolph Furtado commenting on his photo)

Comment from Michael: not everyone in the world is participating in the usual Christmas festivities as most people do in the West. This lady seems to be a “tramp” – homeless, and she has a small tabby or calico cat with a short tail as a friend. It seems to me that a higher than usual percentage of cats in Asia have shorter tails or kinked tails. It is not that uncommon for Siamese cats in Thailand to have tail “abnormalities”. It looks rather crude to put string around the cat’s neck as a lead of some sort. This string also seems to prevent the cat escaping. This looks cruel to people in the West. I suppose this reflects a different relationship with the cat in parts of Asia compared to the West.


21 thoughts on “Cambodia: Street Woman With Her Cat”

  1. My thinking is rather muddled right now, but I’ve just looked at this, and I’d like to know what Mr. Furtado perceives. The woman is smiling for his camera, did not drop her bags to display poor kitten in her kitty-sensitive arms for the camera and flash. I’m thinking that she is used to exploiting the cat. Did you speak to her, Mr. Furtado? I am curious, but guessing that you do not know enough of her dialect or, well, she is strange-looking. Anyway, this is about the cat that she keeps. It appears that, by the blue yarn and the way that it seems to have learned to balance itself in an unfair way, that she does exploit the poor dear. What do you think? To coin a phrase from Spielberg’s E.T., “I don’t like his tail!”

    • I’m sorry. I see that you commented above at 12:52. You don’t speak her dialect nor her language. She does look pathetic, certainly not entirely “dejected.”

    • Caroline. I believe that you are correct. She is probably exploiting this cat. As Rudolph states she keeps the cat tied to her to boost donations. This is begging with a cat to make people feel for tender towards her and to catch their attention.

    • This woman indeed displays cats as a ‘performance’ to get money from tourists. I was just in Phnom Penh over Christmas and also saw her around 172 street a few times. One time I saw her she had about 3 cats balanced on her front and back, and was carrying a big basket full of very young kittens with her. She goes around the cafes and barfronts along the street posing for photos and asking for money.

  2. Michael, you have projected this sad but candid photo that i happen to click in Phnom Penh which raises sad issues on economic differences as well as animal rights.Rich and poor exist in every society including the “First World” country’s.To this poor tramp it seems this cat is her companion as well as a source to earn some “Tourist Money”. This street is a total tourist area with a majority of Western tourists mostly Britishers and Australians.I presume that this lady was trying to collect some money from the tourists.The weather in Phnomh Penh is warm akin to India and hence homeless people can live on the streets and not freeze to death as in most Cold country’s. I would have definitely asked this lady about her strange attire and the cat but language was a hurdle.One important fact i observed during my tour of Vietnam & Cambodia was that most cats had “DEFORMED OR DOCKED TAILS”.

    • Interesting Rudolph. It seems then that this lady was smart enough to realise that carrying a cat around would attract attention and get some donations. It was a “commercial decision” to carry the cat around on her. Her hat gives her a Charlie Chaplin look which was presumably also a commercial decision.

      As for the deformed or docked tails, what you say from first hand experience squares up with my reading on the subject that a lot of cats including the original Siamese cats have something “wrong” with their tails. I’d be interested to try and find out why this is so.

  3. It’s quite a photo.

    Well the biggest question here is quite simply and obviously: Why?

    I just hope the kitten doesn’t suffer and he’s not just dinner. I don’t think he is.

    • Hi Marc, are you safely where you were going?
      I was a bit worried too that the kitten would be dinner, but she’s tiny so wouldn’t make much of a meal and I hope and pray she doesn’t end up that way one day.
      We don’t know the half of what animals in this world suffer but it’s bad enough knowing what we do know and feeling quite helpless at times as to what more we can do.

  4. The strings are a bit worrisome; that baby is doing a great balancing act.
    I hope this woman can rummage around and find a big enough pouch for the kitty.
    An unusual looking street lady. She looks clean and so does her clothing.

    • The strings are definitely worrying. There is a different attitude in the Far East. The string somewhat reflects this attitude. It actually looks dangerous because if the cat falls off she might be suspended by the neck.

  5. Yes my first thought was if the kitten jumped down she could choke herself, she doesn’t look very old and she looks a bit precariously balanced to me 🙁


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